Every business is going to make mistakes – the food arrived cold, the package was delivered late, the line took too long, etc. And these negative experiences customers have, unfortunately, lead to negative online reviews. According to a report conducted by ReviewTrackers, a consumer is 21% more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than after a good one.
It’s inevitable – your business is going to see some not-so-flattering reviews come through online. So, instead of taking offense, take control. Your online presence is an essential component of your company’s brand. When you’ve established your toolbox of messaging materials you can use to protect your digital reputation, you’re ultimately safeguarding your brand.
I’ve worked with several clients on responding to both negative and positive reviews. And while our response strategies might be slightly different depending on the client’s industry, company culture, etc., there are a few key components each business should take into consideration when crafting a review response.
Hiding behind a computer screen, people feel empowered to voice their opinions, and it can feel like a dagger to the heart when their opinion is negative about your business. It’s crucial that you don’t clap back immediately and emotionally upon reading a negative review. Take a deep breath, marinate on it for a moment (or for more than a moment in some cases) and then craft your strategic response.
I’d like to emphasize that you always want to craft a response. Unless the reviewer is commenting on things that are completely untrue – which you can report and have hidden – you never want to delete the review or ignore it. Doing so could make it look like you have something to hide, and it might even prompt the customer to post additional, more scathing reviews.
Less is typically more when responding to a negative review. The last thing you want is to start an argument on the comment chain, and posting a thoughtful response will typically allow the reviewer to move on. The formula I typically follow is: acknowledge, apologize, affirm your company’s key messages and ask to move it offline. Craft a response – not with the mindset of being right but with a mindset of trying to resolve – while weaving in your business’s key messaging points.
Now, your messaging can certainly help rectify a situation, but if you aren’t taking actionable steps to resolve the core issue, your message will fall flat. It’s important to really look at the content of the review. As much as we love to think our business is operating perfectly, this reviewer left these comments for a reason. Take note of the points that may have some merit. If it’s something you need to course correct, get to it. This could be as little as offering a free meal or service to the reviewer in an effort to maintain their loyalty, or it can be as big as completely rethinking certain processes your business has put in place.
You might not be able to control what people say about their experience with your businesses, but you are able to control how you bounce back from it. Simply take each review posted as an opportunity to grow.
Gracie Lee is an account executive at Obsidian Public Relations, a PR firm in Downtown Memphis. This blog post is part three of a three-part series on small business reputation management. Visit the Greater Memphis Chamber’s blog to read parts one and two.BACK